Both fantasy movies from the 1980s using Jim Henson-created puppets will be shown in high definition for the first time this May.
Man, I loved watching these movies when I was a kid. On May 30th, Memorial Day here in the States, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal will be shown back to back on the independent channel HDNet owned by billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. The 8pm showing will mark the first time that these seminal fantasy films will be exhibited in HD resolution and the first time they’ll be shown on TV in almost 10 years. Bringing back these movies is in part to celebrate Labyrinth‘s 25th anniversary but also the spirit in which they were created by Jim Henson.
“As one the last independent networks, HDNet tries to find content that embodies that independent spirit. No movies are more unique and independent in mind and spirit than Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth,” Cuban said.
Labyrinth (1986) stars David Bowie as the Goblin King and a very young Jennifer Connelly as a girl who must travel through a fantasy realm in order to retrieve her baby brother. The film features some iconic moments and great puppet characters (“No, I said ‘allo but that’s close enough.”) as well as some not-so-iconic scenes like the weird singing sequences. Yeah, Labyrinth doesn’t really hold up to an adult viewing, but I’d still watch it again if only for nostalgia.
The Dark Crystal (1982) on the the other hand is just spectacular almost 30 years after it was released. I think that’s because of the amazing character that Jim Henson and Frank Oz were able to evoke with the Gelflings and the Skeksis. The creepy bird people – inspiration for the Arrakoa in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade – are equal parts terrifying, pitiful and adorable, and discovering the story explaining their connection to the benevolent urRu is still enchanting even if you watch The Dark Crystal for the first time today.
What these two films share is an appreciation for the lost art of movie magic through analog special effects. All of the fantastic creatures were created using physical puppets without the use of digital manipulation and I don’t think the story or presentation suffers because of it. In fact, the realness of the reptilian skin of the Skeksis, or the stringy heir of the Junk Lady, roots the fantastic story in images that the viewer can viscerally appreciate.
If you get the cable channel HDNet, you could do a lot worse on Memorial Day than watching these great artifacts from a bygone era.
Source: Hollywood Reporter